It’s flipping revolutionary … or is it?

Pic by Casey David

IF YOU’RE still sitting on the fence over whether to stick to traditional  books or get yourself an e-reader, you may be able to put off the decision for a while longer. At least, that’s what the inventor of the “revolutionary flipback book” wants you to think.

Just released in England, flipback books are made of paper – just like “real” books – but, says the maker, they’re lighter than a Kindle, fit in your pocket, and don’t need recharging.

And because these books are sideways-bound – their printed pages are exceptionally thin and their spines are made of cloth – it’s apparently easy to read two pages from top to bottom, like holding a very light paperback sideways.

Apparently they’re already “all the rage” in Holland, where they’ve been available for a couple of years, which is not surprising, as they were invented there. Hugo van Woerden, who’s chief of Christian printing house Jongbloed, was apparently looking for ways to use excess Bible “onion skin” paper when he came up with the idea.

The Guardian newspaper’s Patrick Kingsley notes that the flipback’s appeal is not only that it’s made of paper, not bytes, but also because it’s convenient.

“I can perch it in one fist, and keep my other hand free for shopping,” he says. “The paper is wafer-thin. ‘Great for making rollies,’ says my nicotine-addicted lunch date,” he adds.

“Unlike an ordinary paperback, the book lies open without intervention on my part, due to its special spine. It’s handy on a rush-hour tube, too. Page-turning with paperbacks will see you elbowing your neighbour in the pancreas in no time. But the minuteness of this little beauty, with its pages that flip rather than turn, help me keep my elbows to myself and pancreases everywhere safe.”

I’m still not convinced, especially as I don’t have to catch a rush-hour tube and these “little beauties”, which look as flimsy as a feather, cost slightly more than a regular book and around two-thirds more than most e-books.

As Cory Doctorow on website boingboing says, the Guardian’s headline – Could this new book kill the Kindle? – must take the prize for that newspaper’s silliest headline of the year.

Talking of headlines, one that did tickle my fancy was on book news website Teleread

New way to read dead trees, they proclaim.

And that just about sums it up.

Because however light they are, 3,500 of them – the number of books I can load on my Kindle – would still use an awful lot of paper and take up an awful lot of physical space.

The headline in the Sydney Morning Herald announced: Wee book versus e-book.

According to their article, flipback books measure 12cm x 8cm across the cover and the heaviest so far is Stephen King’s Misery, weighing in at 157gm, “which is marginally more than an iPhone”.

And the best comment so far also came from the Sydney Morning Herald, but from a reader, “Eiszeit”, who says: “If you don’t have space in your bag for a book, then perhaps you are carrying too much crap around with you … most women carry bags large enough to conceal a corpse.”

Hmmm, wonder who gave him permission to check out mine …. – Stevie Godson

(A version of this column first appeared in the Daily Dispatch)


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This entry was posted by stevieg on Saturday, July 16th, 2011 at 1:13 pm and is filed under General . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Anna says:

    Cool so when will they make it to America?

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